Scene: After Menae, Shepard tells Garrus to come up to her cabin to catch up without telling him to come up to her cabin to catch up.

Shepard isn't big on talking so when they agree to catch up after their rushed reunion on Menae, Garrus isn't sure what day or time (or location or anything really) she means. All he has to go on is that small, cryptic smile of hers (the one that could mean a million different things), and the single eyebrow she raised when he showed her the bottle of wine that he had purchased from a very classy store (Garrus checked. It was definitely classy.) Two weeks pass, and he still hasn't opened it yet.

"Blue's a nice color on you," Vega drawls, gesturing to his colony markings.

"Yeah well, it looks like you're wearing some of your own," Garrus quips.

The marine's hand jumps to the fading ring around his eye. "I'm a rough-and-tumble kind of guy."

"I think you mean rough-and-stumble."

Vega almost-pouts, rolling his shoulders. "I let 'em win."

His brow-plates reach comical heights. "Riiight."

He sets his plate down on the table. "Aren't you gonna ask who I went a few rounds with?"

"Pretty sure it was Joker," the turian says nonchalantly and pops the cap open on his beer.

Vega nearly chokes on his bite of food ('huevos ranchos' or something of the like, the marine had told him) and coughs for several seconds before pointing a fork at him. "You're askin' for it."

"Can you even bring it?" he asks, leaning back against the chair.

"I'd give him a few more days," says a new voice, and the two soldiers snap to attention.

Shepard strolls into view, hands in her pockets, and stops behind Vega's seat. She's in her usual BDUs, hair pulled tight in a bun, but there's something different today that Garrus can't pinpoint. The unknown factor digs under his skin, sets off a buzzing in his ears that only increases in volume the longer he looks at her. Naturally, she doesn't notice this.

He decides to play it safe and casually crosses his arms. "So that's who gave you the black eye."

Vega refuses to budge. "Like I said. I wasn't going all-out at the time."

"Neither was I," Shepard replies, and Garrus stifles the snicker rising in his throat. "If you're still looking for a sparring partner, there's one right here."

"Who-this guy?"

"If I remember correctly, Garrus told me he used to be a top-ranking hand-to-hand specialist."

He can't help interjecting. "Not used to be. Still am."

The other guy's chest seems to puff twice its normal size as he turns to Shepard, brow furrowed. "And you're gonna let your own crew fight each other on your ship?"

She shrugs, authority pouring off of her in waves. "Nothing wrong with blowing off a little steam."

Garrus thanks the Spirits above that no one is paying attention to the turian whose hands have suddenly squeezed his beer bottle hard enough to make his talons scratch the glass with an audible screak. He pipes up, keeping his voice steady, "Think Jimmy here has the reach?"

In a movement too swift for anyone to catch, Shepard flicks her grey eyes at him and just as quickly glances back at Vega. "I'm willing to bet he doesn't have the flexibility." The corners of her mouth twitch.

"I'm plenty flexible," he loudly insists.

"I can think of a few people who've got you beat there," Garrus continues, dropping his voice a few octaves lower. He watches her jaw clench as the buzzing in his head reaches a fever pitch. In a dim corner of his mind, he registers it as adrenaline. Of course.

The expression on Vega's face is priceless: confused, but determined to follow the conversation. He holds his hands up in surrender. "Alright. What am I missing here?"

"It's an inside joke," Shepard says smoothly and looks at Garrus again as she adds, "Don't think too hard about it."

"Uh, okay then" is Vega's eloquent answer while the commander moves away from his chair and back towards the elevator. Garrus hasn't stopped staring, mandibles fluttering every few seconds.

"Later, Shepard," and damn if his subvocals don't roughen on the last syllable of her name.

She nods, her eyes liquid dark. "Later" and turns on her heel.

Vega waves his hand at him. "Uh, what just happened?"

He downs the rest of his beer and wipes his mouth, the buzzing having spread to rest of his body. "Just catching up."

Deep into the night-cycle, when everyone has gone to bed, Garrus knocks on the door to Shepard's cabin. When it slides open, Shepard is waiting for him right on the other side. She's still in her BDUs, hair pulled tight in a bun, but there's something different about her today. Tipping her head back to look at him, she smiles as wide as she can without showing her teeth.

"Hi, Garrus."

The huskiness of her voice makes him want to drop the bottle he's brought up. He grips it tighter. "Hey, Shepard."

Her eyes flick down. "Is that for us?"

"Only the good stuff," he says, hefting it up to view. "Mind, only one of us can drink it."

She takes the bottle and heads to her desk to set it down, a deliberate sway to her walk that has all of his plates feeling tight. "I don't think that'll be a problem. We've never had trouble sharing liquids before."

The door slides shut as Garrus fully steps inside, breathing in the charged air in the room. "Tempting biology again?

"You know me," Shepard continues in that maddeningly calm tone, "I'm a risk-taker."

He plays along, hoping to get this next idiom right. "Strange, I always pegged you as someone who keeps her cards close to her vest."

Her flash of teeth says otherwise as she moves into his personal space. "Closer."

Garrus leans in, his mandible lightly brushing the curve of her cheek. "How close?" he rumbles quietly.

Shepard bites her lip. "Close enough," she says and turns her head to kiss him.